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Supermarkets apply strict face mask rules in Melbourne, Mitchell Shire

Young woman in face mask shopping in grocery store supermarket.

A spike in the number of Coronavirus cases and stricter lockdowns in Victoria has led the state government to require supermarket shoppers to wear face masks at all times while grocery shopping in two areas.

Supermarket operators Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, FoodWorks and IGA have published a joint communication about the new measure. They are now requiring consumers in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to wear face masks at all times to ensure the safety of the customers and the grocery workers.

“The chief health officer states that people living in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are required to wear a face covering … when leaving their home, unless a lawful exception applies,” according to the Victorian Government.

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and team members is our top priority. We expect every customer entering our stores in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to wear a face-covering as per the government’s directive. This policy has been agreed upon through the Supermarket’s Taskforce and is consistent with other major retailers,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Inside FMCG.

“To ensure we are following government guidelines, we expect all customers to be wearing a face covering in our stores, unless a lawful exception applies to you. Masks have also become compulsory for our team members, unless they too have an exception,” according to the joint supermarket statement.

The supermarket companies have applied several safety measures such as social distancing and enhanced sanitation of its grocery stores. They reminded shoppers to practice social distancing; wash their hands or use sanitisers before entering stores and using contactless payment instead of cash.

Consumers are advised to not go to grocery stores if they feel unwell or have been in contact with a suspected case of Covid-19. The supermarkets said these measures also apply to their workers.

“Please continue to treat our teams with the respect and courtesy they all deserve. We thank you for your ongoing patience and support as together we do all we can to keep our communities safe,” the supermarkets said.

The government said those who will not follow the stricter measure of wearing face masks will be fined with $200. Consumers in regional Victoria have been encouraged to wear face masks as a precaution, but it is not mandatory.

Premier Daniel Andrews used the supermarkets as an example of why wearing face masks are necessary.

“A number … are legitimately not able to wear masks so please don’t vilify individuals or don’t make the assumption they are simply stubborn. There will be people with medical, behavioural, psychological reasons … certainly don’t make an assumption that they should be the subject of your ire,” Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton told AAP.

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